Don’t point that thing at my planet

We had a full group of players this week for our Traveller game, but having had my booster shot that afternoon I wasn’t sure what state I’d be in. Fortunately the only side effects were a headache, which was easily remedied with a pill. I’d done some thinking over the previous week, catching up on some of the paperwork for the Deepnight Revelation which I’d trying to hide from players so not to bog things down in mechanics.

Something that needed to be done was the monthly maintenance checks. According to the campaign, they’re meant to be done every ‘reach’, which is a somewhat amorphous stretch of time. It seemed to roughly equate to once a month, some I’m using once a month instead. Or I might change it to being based on a number of jumps – maybe once every three or four jumps. That would make it easier for me to remember.

Anyway, the maintenance results were a couple of dents to the hull (hardly worth mentioning), and damage to the main drive, giving a -1 Thrust. Could be serious, but also just a few hours and some supplies to fix.

So last session they were heading in towards the Ice Giant of Pryme V, and they’d received a radio transmission from the Excess of Gravitas, requesting a meeting with Lord Sivas, the diplomat who was representing the Imperium’s interests aboard the Deepnight. Shortly afterwards, their drive gave a little shudder, and lost some power.

This was concerning to all aboard, so they dropped down to low thrust whilst Chief Engineer Siona McFranchester got her team looking into what the problem was. After a couple of hours, an engineer came to her with a box, inside which were a few fried rats. Apparently they’d chewed on the wrong cables, and shorted out one of the heat sinks to the primary drive.

So there was a lot of discussion about where the rats had come from, and why they hadn’t been spotted. The engineers complained that they’d been short staffed and that they hadn’t been able to check that part of the ship recently because quite a few of them had been pulled off regular maintenance to work on the new particle barbettes.

So a full deep clean of the ship is demanded, as well as a plan to come up with dealing with infestations. By the time that has been done, the Deepnight has arrived at the ice giant, and were preparing to begin the refuelling operation. As they headed down into the atmosphere, they noticed that beneath them was a huge hurricane of swirling clouds. Passing over the eye of the storm gave them a view straight down through many cloud layers, something the science team were interested in taking a look at.

The main world of Pryme is a warm desert world with a thick atmosphere.

There was an archaeological research team based here, who were investing some strange geometric formations that had been detected on the surface of the world’s core. They were trying to determine whether the formations were natural or artificial. This world was some 60,000 km in diameter, with a central core of rock and ice, covered with a layer of super heated water which was compressed by the main atmosphere.

Since they had repairs to do, and were also waiting for the arrival of the admiral, some of the crew went across to the research station on the inner moon. The research students working there obviously decided that this was a good excuse for a party. One of them dropped some not so subtle hints about wishing they had access to a big particle beam so they could fire down through the eye of the storm and towards the core, allowing them to measure the effects.

Zanobia was more than happy to push for this, as was the ship’s XO, who was always keen to test out the ship’s weapons. Chief of Operations, Colonel Xavier Quinn wasn’t too keen on the idea, but he was overruled.

So the Deepnight took up position above the eye, with a couple of Lab Ships close by helping to monitor the results. They fired the spinal mount down towards the core, which created a pretty ionised trail down through the atmosphere. And then the surface of the watery mantle froze solid.

There was a a lot of startled shouts from the scientists, as well as some panicking. Whatever had happened shouldn’t of. The top ten centimetres of the entire planetary mantle had almost instantly turned to solid ice, despite the 150° super heated water beneath it.

Alfred, who was watching from the observation dome on the moon along with other scientists, saw a sudden, brief change in the appearance of the planet – it seemed to turn into a flaming eye for a fraction of a second. He rolled a double six on his Psi, so I decided he deserved something special happen.

He reached out to try and contact the world, and suddenly saw a white octohedron floating in the centre of the room. A voice in his head said “Go Away!

He tried to ask what they were, and got “We are sleeping. We do not wish to wake“. The image then went away, and nobody else had seen it.

Obviously one of my players had tried to worked out how many trillion megatonnes of energy changing the entire surface to ice had required (a lot). After a while, they settled on a significant fucktonne.

I hadn’t quite expected things to go this way, but it made for an interesting session with a lot of panicking about what was happening. It might also make for good foreshadowing of something similar in the future. Dr Nekuna (one of the NPC scientists the PCs had worked with before) argued for backing away as much as possible and letting the local team handle it, since they were obviously ‘so much better placed to do so’. The fact that it was less dangerous for him this way was left unsaid.


Several days later, the Excess of Gravitas turned up, and Admiral Ekakdiish Umukiki Sasigdu had a secret meeting with Lord Leon Sivas. Sivas returned with a diplomatic pouch which he didn’t show to anyone else. Afterwards there was a bit of a social gathering with the Admiral, and a couple of rumours were picked up – both from the Admiral and as part of the crew’s stay with the research scientists.

  • There is a mothballed Imperium navy reserve fleet in the system of Empire (Trojan Reach/2711). The main world is an ideal garden world, lightly populated. There are currently plans to move some of the population from Albe to here. There are a large number of retired admirals currently living here, and plenty of rumours of them plotting to do something with the reserve fleet.
  • The Senlis Foederate is trying to improve trade relations with the Imperium. The government’s treatment of its people is not well liked by the Imperium, and the Foederate is in need of high tech supplies for its continued existence. The Imperium is trying to use soft power to try and bring them around, or if that fails, there is talk of just sending in the navy.

We could have moved on from here, but we potentially have a new player joining the group, who has a desire to play an archaeologist. It seemed like a good place to stop for the night, in case the new character wants to come from the research station.

Though it’s interesting to do something fun and unique at each world, it does make progress slow, so I’m probably going to cut down the amount of ‘excitement’ at each world, and allow the journey to progress a bit quicker. There can still be things to see and do, but there’s no reason there can’t be a few ‘jump in, refuel, leave’ worlds in between each real encounter.

Samuel Penn

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